Sneak Preview: NIFA Aims To Better Communicate With its Grantees

July 6, 2012 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The success of a grant program can be severely hampered if there is little discussion between a federal agency and a grant recipient about the program’s priorities and the grantee’s needs. Therefore, the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (formerly the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service) has launched an initiative to improve grantor/grantee communication.

NIFA’s Office of Grants and Financial Management, through the “Good to Great” initiative, aims to enhance communication, collaboration and cooperation with grantees and other business partners, and to increase stakeholder outreach and education.

“What we were hearing from grantees was that there was a one-way dialog; it was information being pushed out [by the agency] and not so much the agency listening to what the grantees needed,”  Andrew Moses, manager at MorganFranklin Corp., a consulting firm working with NIFA, told attendees at a recent Federal Demonstration Partnership meeting.

In response, the NIFA grants office is piloting a grantee outreach program to address high priority issues identified by grantees, determine the effectiveness of communication and customer service channels and improve grantee relationships throughout the grants lifecycle. The office also is conducting a communication audit to determine the effectiveness of existing communication activities, identify communications gaps and develop a plan the meets the needs of NIFA grantees.

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